.- Dozens of university students in Australia have already come forth and offered to volunteer for World Youth Day 2008, saying they are confident the event will be a success. Critics of the decision to hold the event in Sydney have said it will be too costly, but students responded by offering their complete support. ““On behalf of hundreds of university and TAFE students from across Australia, I am guaranteeing our support and pledging volunteers to help make this a reality,” said Daniel Hill, president of the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) and who was in Rome for World Youth Day 2000 (WYD). He said he had already received phone calls from university students enthusiastic to volunteer.
Australian young people who traveled to Cologne for WYD 2005 hope the event will bring renewal to the Church in their country. ”WYD rejuvenated my faith and put me in contact with Catholics from all over the world,” said Annalise Wurtsthorn, a 24 year-old student at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “Australia will benefit from the energy of the pilgrims, their enthusiasm, gratitude and excitement and the opportunity to give hospitality and welcome to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from overseas”
John Smyth, who attends Monash University in Melbourne, said, “The mood over here is just awesome, unbelievable. There is a real optimism that WYD Sydney 2008 will change the face of the Church in Australia forever. We’ve been out partying every night since the news and we can’t wait to get back and join other Aussie students at the September 4th celebrations.”
Only about 200,000 pilgrims are expected to fly into Australia in 2008 due to the long distances between most capitals and Sydney.
The WYD cross, which was damaged by wind in Cologne, will probably be refurnished or replaced by a new one in order to begin its journey through the different churches and parishes on the way to Sydney.
According to Sandra Nori, Minister of Tourism for New South Wales, WYD could bring more visitors than the 2000 Olympics did. Chris Brown, chief of the Department of Tourism and Transportation, said, “With luck we’ll all end up richer, both financially and spiritually.”
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the decision to celebrate WYD in his country was "a great compliment to Australia, a great compliment to Sydney and very importantly a great compliment to Australia's Catholic community".